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Uni Watch: Surprisingly, Denver Broncos choose white Super Bowl jerseys

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Significance of Broncos' Super Bowl jersey choice (2:46)

Paul Lukas of Uni Watch explains the significance of the Broncos choosing white jerseys for the Super Bowl and why Denver is not the first home team to do so. (2:46)

In a major surprise, the Denver Broncos have decided to wear white jerseys in Super Bowl 50.

The Broncos had the privilege of choosing their jersey color by virtue of being the designated home team, a status that rotates every year. The AFC champion is the home team for even-numbered Super Bowls; the NFC champ gets that designation for odd-numbered Super Bowls.

A few facts, figures and observations about the Broncos' choice:

  • The Broncos may have chosen to wear white out of superstition. They are 0-4 when wearing orange jerseys in a Super Bowl, having lost Super Bowls XII, XXI, XXIV and XLVIII. They're 1-1 in white and 1-0 in blue.

  • Bonus superstition: Teams wearing white jerseys have won 10 of the past 11 Super Bowls.

  • Double-bonus superstition: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is 1-2 in Super Bowls. His victory in Super Bowl XLI came while wearing a white jersey.

  • According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, the Broncos have worn white at home only 10 times in their history. Seven of those games were in 1971, when they wore white at home for the entire season.

  • The Broncos went 6-2 in their white jerseys this season. They went 7-1 wearing orange (5-1 in the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs) and 1-1 in their blue alternate jerseys.

  • This marks the fifth time a designated home team has chosen to wear white in the Super Bowl. The four previous teams to do so were the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, Washington in Super Bowl XVII, the Cowboys again in Super Bowl XXVII and the Steelers in Super Bowl XL. Those four teams went a collective 3-1 in their Super Bowls.

  • Historical footnote: The Cowboys were the designated home team for Super Bowl V and wanted to wear white, but Super Bowl home teams were required to wear colored jerseys in those days, so Dallas wore blue and lost to the Colts. This was a key building block in the legend of the Cowboys' blue-jersey curse.

  • Bonus footnote: The Patriots wore white at home throughout the 1985 regular season, but then they were forced to wear red on the road in two of their three playoff games (because the Jets chose to wear white at home in the wild-card round and the Dolphins did likewise in the conference championship). They won both of those games, so they chose to stick with red -- their usual road color at the time -- in Super Bowl XX.

  • As for the Carolina Panthers, they'll be wearing their black jerseys. It's possible that they could also wear their black pants (teams aren't required to declare their pant choice in advance), which would create the first all-black versus all-white matchup in Super Bowl history.

  • The Panthers have appeared in only one previous title game, Super Bowl XXXVIII, where they wore white and lost.

A few other uni-related notes regarding the big game, all regarding the quarterbacks' uniform numbers:

  • Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is poised to become the first quarterback to wear No. 1 in a Super Bowl. (Obviously, this also gives him the lowest uniform number ever worn by a Super Bowl quarterback.)

  • Peyton Manning's No. 18 is the second-highest uniform number ever worn by a Super Bowl quarterback. The highest: No. 19, worn by Johnny Unitas in Super Bowls III and V.

  • The gap between Newton's and Manning's uniform numbers -- 17 -- is the largest such gap in Super Bowl quarterback history. The previous record was set two years ago in Super Bowl XLVIII, when Manning wore No. 18 and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wore No. 3.

(Special thanks to Jay Braiman for research assistance.)

Paul Lukas hasn't decided who he'll be rooting for in the Super Bowl. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program? Or get added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.